In an unprecedented move, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) moved to suspend immigration enforcement at a company employing illegal aliens so as to protect a unionization campaign. ICE's toothless audits are notorious for allowing illegal aliens to remain in the United States, moving from ruthless employer to ruthless employer, never to be deported and always driving down wages for Americans. ICE took this incident one step further, it suspended an ongoing enforcement action to allow the illegal aliens to vote in a union organization election. Effectively it conspired with unions to violate U.S. immigration law.
NYT July 27, 2012 by Stephen Greenhouse
MILWAUKEE — On May 27, about 150 workers from Palermo’s Pizza factory here, representing three-fourths of its production workers, met to sign a petition saying they wanted to unionize. They say they gave the petition to management two days later.
Around the same time, Palermo’s delivered letters to 89 immigrant workers, asking them to provide documentation verifying that they had the right to work in the United States. Ten days later, almost all of them were fired.
Labor organizers assert that Palermo’s, one of the nation’s largest producers of frozen pizza, was trying to snuff out a unionization drive in its infancy. The company says it was merely responding to warnings it had received from federal immigration authorities to fire unauthorized workers or face hefty fines.
Then ICE decided that it would act to protect aliens who are in the United States illegally as well as working illegally.
After several labor leaders complained that the enforcement action at Palermo’s was undermining a unionization effort, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on June 7 that it was staying the enforcement, the first time it has ever suspended a crackdown that way, according to immigration experts. Although the agency’s move might have been too late to help the fired Palermo’s workers, labor experts say the government’s change of heart might affect future efforts to unionize immigrants.
And it all had roots in an earlier agreement between ICE and the Department of Labor (DOL).
Ana Avendano, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of immigration affairs, said ICE’s suspension of its enforcement action was the first time it had made such a move. She said it was consistent with a December 2011 agreement that ICE signed with the Department of Labor, promising to refrain from work site enforcement that interfered with labor disputes or wage investigations.
This blog did not pay attention to the agreement signed in December 2011 and consequently overlooked the quite explicit nature of ICE's intent to support illegal aliens in their unionization efforts. From the Memorandum of Understanding between DOL and ICE:
ICE and the principal DOL components agree to the following commitments and exchanges in order to ensure coordination and deconfliction of their respective civil enforcement activities.
A. Except as noted in paragraph C, ICE agrees to refrain from engaging in civil worksite enforcement activities at a worksite that is the subject of an existing DOL investigation of a labor dispute during the pendency of the DOL investigation and any related proceeding. ICE will continue its existing practice of assessing whether tips and leads it receives concerning worksite enforcement involve a worksite with a pending labor dispute. DOL agrees to assist ICE's efforts under this paragraph by providing ICE with timely and accurate information to allow for identification of overlapping enforcement activity.
B. ICE further agrees to be alert to and thwart attempts by other parties to manipulate its worksite enforcement activit ies for illicit or improper purposes. ICE will continue its existing practice of assessing whether tips and leads it receives concerning worksite enforcement are motivated by an improper desire to manipulate a pending labor dispute, retaliate against employees for exercising labor rights, or otherwise frustrate the enforcement of labor laws. DOL agrees to assist ICE's efforts under this paragraph by informing ICE of information DOL may have that other parties seek to manipulate a pending labor dispute, retaliate against employees for exercising labor rights, or otherwise frustrate the enforcement of labor laws.
Apologies to my readers for overlooking this significant step in the Obama Regime Administrative Amnesty. But this step by ICE would shock the writer if it was not just more lawlessness by the developing dictatorship. Note that the MOU speaks of deconfliction of ICE and DOL investigations as the purpose of the document. But there is no evidence of an ongoing DOL investigation in the NYT article. Consequently it appears that ICE has expanded the definition of "investigation" to include union organization activities. Which becomes more specific later in the MOU:
C. Notwithstanding paragraph A, ICE may engage in worksite enforcement activities at a worksite that is the subject of a pending labor dispute if-
Whereupon we find the real reason for the agreement is not coordination and deconfliction, but protection to illegal alien union thugs.
Further on in the MOU, ICE and DOL provide further evidence that coordination and deconfliction is not the purpose, but the end of joint DOL and ICE investigations.
E. Unless specifically agreed to by both DOL and ICE, ICE and the DOL components covered by this MOU will not conduct joint or coordinated civil enforcement activities at a worksite.
And ICE will provide amnesty to specific illegal aliens who get a DOL "sponsorship."
F. ICE agrees to consider DOL requests that ICE grant a temporary law enforcement parole or deferred action to any witness needed for a DOL investigation of a labor dispute during the pendency of the DOL investigation and any related proceeding where such witness is in the country unlawfully.
Just as the Regime opposed 287(g) coordination with local law enforcement to increase immigration enforcement, so it sought to sever ICE and DOL cooperation that threatened illegal aliens.
Clearly the Regime is signalling to unions that organizing illegal aliens will be openly tolerated, despite the fact that unions are not exempt from Title 8 of the United States Code Section 1324 that prohibits bringing and harboring illegal aliens.